Nathaniel Theodore’s Story

As told by his mother, Mary Jane.

My only child is Nathaniel Theodore. Nathaniel was born 3.22.97, a little over a month early due to hospital negligence, but I don’t  want to focus on that because it took me a long time to even start the process of forgiving myself for not being educated enough on the whole pregnancy experience and in choosing the best doctor and not getting a second opinion.

Nathaniel only lived one day, in the neonatal unit of a second hospital since he had to be transported there from the first hospital that my doctor sent me to. The transport was rough on my boy, but again, that takes me back to all the mistakes that were made. I want to remember his very short existence. I didn’t get to hear his happy baby gurgles and coos, I didn’t get to play with him, but I got to feel him in my belly and sang to him, spoke with him and took time in choosing his name. It upset me when somebody told me that I could always try to have another son and use that name again. That was his name!

My Nathaniel was conceived unexpectedly and I was not married, but I was committed to my baby and he was my family. You would have to understand my past to understand why it was so important to me to be the best mother I could be. I like to say his name and although it can be painful, I like to speak of him  when given the chance, which is not often. I was never really able to speak about him. I would be told things like, he only lived a day so it shouldn’t be as hard as a child that you had lots of memories with, or it’s been years, it’s time to get over it. He was a part of me, that part died when he did, how do I forget that? He was a breathing living creation, not a statue that was chiseled into a form. He grew in me, jumped and kicked , we had a song, when he came into this world I got to hear his cry, he peed on a nurse and he was my future, my motivation to be a better person. He was my mother’s first born grandchild, but not recognized as such and that still kills me.

I’m 51 yrs old now, so I’ll never have a child in the natural way. I love children, but for years I felt like I owed it to Nathaniel to save all that love for him alone. Don’t get me wrong, I took care of and loved other children, but I tried to hold back the motherly love.  I finally came to realize that I carried all of this grief and guilt and have recently made some peace with it, so now I just wanted to take this opportunity to say: Nathaniel Theodore Hernandez, you were loved and wanted my son, every year I saw you grow in other children’s silhouettes and eyes, I visit your gravesite and know that your spirit is not there but it’s the only place I have to keep clean and leave a flower, it’s gotten easier with each year and I try to be there for the new mommies who have lost their angels and whose visits are so fresh for them. I’ve watched over children like I would want somebody to have watched over you. This year was one of the hardest, because it’s the year that you would have been graduating high school so when I went to a couple of those graduations it still tore me up, even after all these years. I used to try to make others comfortable while denying my loss, but I was letting you and me down. You are my child and it’s not right that you are not here with me, growing older together, missing out on all of your milestones, but that is what was handed to us. I’m sorry and I love you. I pray to see you again one day.